At the Table

Soft honey wheat sandwich bread

I’ve been on a quest for a few years to make a good homemade sandwich bread.  Not too squishy or crumbly, and with a soft crust that toasts well.  More or less, I wanted a homemade version of storebought wheat sandwich bread.  Turns out, when it comes to making a slicing bread with the thinnest, softest crust ever, the pan is almost as important as the dough.  This winter I sprung for a Pullman loaf pan from King Arthur Flour, with the hope of making sandwich bread that Jeth would like (he’s not the biggest fan of crusty bread).Honey wheat sandwich bread recipe

Pullman pans are high sided and tightly lidded, which constricts the dough’s rise and makes for a really fine crumb.  And since the bread is enclosed on all sides while it bakes, hardly any crust forms.  The resulting loaf turns out perfectly square slices, since there’s been no “mushrooming” over the edge of the pan.  It’s just all around better for slicing and sandwich eating, if you ask me.

This dough has milk and butter added, which keeps it soft and tender.  I made it with 30% whole wheat flour, since I really wanted soft and not-crumbly bread (which sometimes happens with high proportions of WW flour).   I think it would probably work well with up to half whole wheat flour.  If you decide to push the limits and go beyond 50% whole wheat, please let me know how the texture turns out!

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus a pinch of vital wheat gluten if you have it
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water (or use extra milk for a richer loaf)
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup milk (for brushing)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, using a mixer with paddle or dough hook attachment.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes to give the whole wheat flour a chance to absorb some liquid.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 6-10 minutes, until the dough passes the windowpane test (a small piece should stretch thin enough to see light through it). Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth for 1 hour, until it’s doubled.

Punch the dough down really well to remove any air bubbles, then roll it into a 9″ wide rectangle.  Roll it into a log, pinching the seams tightly as you go.  Place the dough seam-side down in a 9″ Pullman pan.  Put the lid on and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes, until it comes to within 1/2 inch of the pan lid.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  After the loaf has risen, bake it for 25 minutes with the lid on.  Once the time is up, remove the lid and bake for 10 minutes more.  A finished loaf should sound hollow if you tap the top.  Turn the loaf out of the pan and brush the sides with a little milk.  If you can, wrap it in a tea towel as it cools – this will trap steam and keep the crust soft.

Happy baking!

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